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IN SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE HEARING CONFIRMING JOHN BRENNAN
They are asking the local DC area activist community to come to court as they are able to support them.
They have issued the following statement:
Three of the activists who were arrested at the Feb 7, 2013 Senate Confirmation Hearing of John Brennan as CIA Director are currently on trial in DC. The last trial day is likely to be Monday, Aug 19, or Tuesday at the latest;. Drone Czar, John Brennan, was ultimately confirmed to head the CIA, but our commitment for peace and justice is relentless and "SHALL NOT BE MOVED."
The three co-defendants, David Barrows, Joan Nicholson and Toby Blome are representing themselves pro se, with terrific assistance from their legal advisors, DC attorneys Ann Wilcox and Mark Goldstone. The co-defendants are arguing they did not have specific intent to disrupt the hearing, along with other arguments, Please join us at DC Superior Court, Courtroom 112 (Judge Patricia Broderick). The courthouse is at 500 Indiana Ave., NW, Washington DC.
For details of the CodePink anti-drone action that the defendants were part of, refer to the media links below.
Please hold us all in your thoughts,
Toby Blome, Bay Area CodePink
CodePink speaks out at John Brennan Confirmation Hearing:
5 Anti-Drone Protesters Found Guilty of Trespassing Monday(Aug 12); Federal Judge Won't Allow 'Nuremberg Principles' Defense Regarding Civilian Casualties
SACRAMENTO – Five peace advocates protesting against the Obama Administration's use of killer drones and killings of innocent civilians, including children, around the world were found guilty late Monday in U.S. District Court here of trespassing.
The so-called "Beale 5" were arrested Oct. 30, 2012 at the main gate to Beale AFB, where the Global Hawk drone is based. It flies surveillance for lethal predator drones.
The guilty verdict – handed down by federal judge Carolyn K. Delaney late Monday – means a possible fine and/or up to six months in federal prison. Sentencing is set for Sept. 9.
All the defendants have said they will not pay a fine or accept probation.
The court refused to allow the defense of necessity or the Nuremberg defense, which provides that a citizen is complicit in the killing of civilians – as in the drone strikes – if they do not protest or try to stop that killing by their government.
Cindy Sheehan and about 50 peace advocates from Northern California attended the trial.
The defendants were represented by volunteer lawyers coordinated by the National Lawyers Guild of Sacramento, which said the government also denied defendants a jury trial, even though they could be sentenced to six months in prison.
Those found guilty were Janie Kesselman, Camptonville; Sharon Delgado, Nevada City; Shirley Osgood, Grass Valley; and David and Jan Hartsough, both of San Francisco.
A second anti-drone trial is scheduled later this year for another group of five people arrested at Beale AFB this past April 30.
The common phrase is ‘law and order’ but does the legal system deal with dysfunctional social behavior in ways that keep us safe?
By Linda W. Swanson
At age 69, I recently found spending thirteen hours in a Washington, DC, jail one of the most invigorating experiences I've ever had, and it seems to have already helped to make the world a better place!
The US State Department had hired a company with ties to tar sands profiteers to evaluate the safety of a tar sands pipeline, with predictable results. In the week since my husband and I and fifty-two other people of all ages and backgrounds were arrested for protesting the company involved, the State Department has decided to initiate an inquiry to determine if there was a conflict of interest. Certainly we were not alone in shining a light on this particular corruption, but I'm convinced we made a difference and played a part in that turnaround.
I'm reminded of Pete Seeger's parable of the teaspoons when I think about the contributions each of us makes every time we take a stand against injustice. We may or may not see the balance of justice tip immediately upon the heels of our action, but without each of us doing our part, getting off our couch, and engaging, the weight will not shift in the direction of justice nearly as quickly as it could.
We've now been arrested twice, and I'd like to share our story in hopes that you might decide one day to join us, not only in bending the world toward justice (one teaspoonful of sand at a time!), but also in experiencing a solidarity with others that is unlike any other experience we've had.
Two years ago my husband, Neil, and I decided to join Bill McKibben and 350.org's Tar Sands Action. Every day for two weeks up to 100 people sat in front of the White House demanding that the president reject the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline that was proposed to run from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. Over the two weeks, 1250 people were arrested. We could have participated without being arrested. Many made that choice. But we chose to be numbered among those who were arrested in hopes of adding to the impact of the action. That was a positive, empowering experience that inspired us to participate in the more recent action organized by 350.org and others on Friday, July 26, 2013.
Earlier this summer, when 350.org asked if individuals were willing to risk arrest for (sadly) the same cause, Neil and I immediately signed on. This time there were more unknowns. There would be a single, secret event. There would be no "arrangements" with the police beforehand, since surprise was a key element.
Our action, a part of 350.org's "Summer Heat," had been joined to another action called Walk for our Grandchildren that was also demanding rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline. Over the course of the week prior to Friday, July 26, several dozen stalwart folks, ranging from children to folks even older than we, walked all or part of the 100 miles from Camp David to Washington, camping each night along the way. They arrived in time to join us for the mandatory training in nonviolent direct action from 6-10 pm on Thursday evening at St. Stephen's church in DC, and many of them also agreed to be arrested the next day.
As we stood in the dinner line before our training and mentioned that our previous training was only hours after the 2011 earthquake, a man beside us said he had been in training that same day and had been arrested along with us in 2011. We didn't remember each other, but we had found something in common and began forming a new community. By the time we'd eaten and chatted we had several more new acquaintances among the two hundred or so people present.
As the training began we were offered the opportunity to choose the level of risk of arrest we wanted to take the next day. The people choosing to be in Group A would be at greatest risk, because they were going further into the target building. Group B would remain in the building's lobby and were also subject to arrest. Group C would rally outside the building without risking arrest. As people learned more about the three groups, there was some switching, but soon most of us were comfortable with the level of risk we had chosen.
The next part of our training was an actual run-through of the action so we would have the feel of what we would be doing the next day. We were shown a diagram of the target building and told what areas of the church building would represent areas of the target building. We then had two complete run-throughs of our action.
The last hour of our training was a presentation by our attorney from the National Lawyers' Guild about the legal issues facing us. We were given a large amount of information about the law, police practices, supports that would be in place, and the levels of risk. We each filled out a form with our contact information and names of people who could be called in an emergency. We were told repeatedly that while there had been much planning, there was no guarantee that everything would go according to the plans. Neil and I concluded that sufficient supports were in place for us to be comfortable going ahead with being arrested. We joined Group B.
It was close to 10:30 pm when we left the training. We got to bed well after midnight and were up very early. We were to meet at 11:30 Friday morning in DC, and we wanted to allow plenty of time for any traffic problems, parking challenges, and Metro delays.
As we all gathered on Friday morning, a few things did not proceed as we'd been told in our training. We had expected that the A, B, and C groups would be given identifying colored armbands so we would know how to arrange ourselves on the way to the building. There were no armbands, nor was there any mention of them on Friday. When we finally lined up to march from our staging area to the building (a distance of about two blocks), we called out to each other to assemble in the proper order. We also found that a motorcycle officer was stopping traffic so we could safely cross streets, and that made some of us wonder if the police had been informed and were expecting us.
The speed at which we walked along the sidewalk was much faster than I had anticipated. Neil was breaking into a near run to keep up, and he kept motioning for those of us behind him to close ranks. I caught up to him at the door of the building, and he tried to keep the door open for people behind us to enter. He later told me that a policeman had pushed him off of the door and closed it. We still don't know if all those in the B group managed to enter the building.
Fasted in protest of treatment of Guantanamo detainees, in solidarity with those on hunger strike
Elliott Adams of Sharon Springs, New York, a Vietnam War veteran who will have been fasting for 80 days in solidarity with Guantanamo detainees, will end his fast on Sunday, August 4 at the new section of the Masjid As-Salam, 280 Central Ave., Albany, NY (next door to 278 Central Ave., the masjid itself). Veteran Tarak Kauff of Woodstock, who will have fasted for 58 days and also began his fast in solidarity with the Guantanamo prisoners, will also end his fast at the masjid. Both men will eat an iftar meal with mosque members at sundown, around 8:15 p.m., in keeping with the observance of the holy month of Ramadan, during which observant Muslims fast from dawn to sundown. Adams, a non-Muslim, and Kauff, who is Jewish, will speak beforehand at 7:15 p.m. about their reasons for undertaking their fasts, and then answer questions. Dr. Shamshad Ahmad, president of the Masjid As-Salam, will welcome all who attend and will speak about the meaning and traditions of Ramadan, which this year runs from July 8 to August 7.
The media and public are invited to hear the men's presentations at 7:15 p.m. and then to enjoy the iftar meal with the Muslim community.
Adams, former mayor of Sharon Springs, former president of the national organization Veterans for Peace, and a community activist, has long advocated for closure of the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He began fasting on May 17 because of his distress over detainees who continue to be held at the prison without charges or trial, and because of their treatment, saying that it goes against everything he fought for during his years in the military. He has limited himself to 300 calories and 3 liters of water a day.
Kauff serves on the board of directors of Veterans for Peace and is one of the founders of War Crimes Times, the organization’s newspaper. He is also one of the original members of Middle East Crisis Response, a group of Hudson Valley residents who support human rights for Palestinians and an end to the U.S.'s aggressive policies in the Middle East. He began his liquid-only fast on June 7 and has been consuming 300 calories a day.
Six other people in the U.S. are still fasting long-term in solidarity with the Guantanamo prisoners and with prisoners at Pelican Bay State Prison in California, who are on a hunger strike to protest conditions there.
About 10 peace activists in the area have chosen to support the long-term fasters, particularly Adams, through a “rolling fast”: either by fasting once a week for 24 hours or by fasting 24 hours at intermittent times. They have also stood in solidarity with the international movement to close Gitmo by gathering on six different occasions in public demonstrations at various locations in the Capital District, most recently at the corner of Wolf Road and Central Avenue in Colonie.
Among the 166 prisoners still being held at Guantanamo, 86 were cleared for release over a year ago. Over 100 detainees, with no hope of release in sight, began a hunger strike in February of this year; as of this writing, 69 are still on strike, 45 are being force-fed, and 3 are in the hospital. A recent video made by rapper and Hollywood star Mos Def, who volunteered to be force-fed, shows how excruciating the procedure is, and is considered torture by many human rights groups. The British rights organization Reprieve has documented the use of forcible cell extractions of those who refuse food, the use of unnecessary force during the force-feeding process, a new regime of invasive genital searches, and the use of solitary confinement to control prisoners.
On July 23, on the eve of a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing about Guantanamo, 26 of the nation’s most respected retired military leaders submitted a letter urging members of the committee to support steps to close the facility.
The event at the Masjid As-Salam is supported and organized by numerous peace and justice groups throughout the Capital District. One of those groups, the Muslim Solidarity Committee, notes that August 4 is the ninth anniversary of the arrests of Yassin Aref and Mohammed Hossain in 2004, two Masjid As-Salam members who were later convicted as the result of a phony FBI “terrorism” sting based at the masjid, where Aref was imam. Both are serving 15-year sentences in federal prison. Aref has recently submitted a new appeal.
For background information on Guantanamo, see:
U.S. whistleblower and international hero Bradley Manning has just been awarded the 2013 Sean MacBride Peace Award by the International Peace Bureau, itself a former recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, for which Manning is a nominee this year.
A petition supporting Manning for the Nobel Peace Prize has gathered 88,000 signatures, many of them with comments, and is aiming for 100,000 before delivering it to the Norwegian Nobel Committee in Oslo. Anyone can sign and add their comments at ManningNobel.org
The International Peace Bureau (IPB) represents 320 organizations in 70 countries. It was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1910. Over the years, 13 of IPB's officers have been Nobel Peace laureates. See ipb.org
The Sean MacBride prize has been awarded each year since 1992 by the International Peace Bureau, founded in 1892. Previous winners include: Lina Ben Mhenni (Tunisian blogger) and Nawal El-Sadaawi (Egyptian author) - 2012, Jackie Cabasso (USA, 2008), Jayantha Dhanapala (Sri Lanka, 2007) and the Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (2006). It is named after Sean MacBride, a distinguished Irish statesman who shared the 1974 Nobel Peace Prize, and is given to individuals or organisations for their outstanding work for peace, disarmament and human rights.
The medal is made of "peace bronze," a material created out of disarmed and recycled nuclear weapons systems, by fromwartopeace.com The prize will be formally awarded on Sept. 14 in Stockholm, at a special evening on whistleblowing, which forms part of the triennial gathering of the International Peace Bureau. See brochure at: PDF.
IPB's Co-President Tomas Magnusson said, “IPB believes that among the very highest moral duties of a citizen is to make known war crimes and crimes against humanity. This is within the broad meaning of the Nuremberg Principles enunciated at the end of the Second World War. When Manning revealed to the world the crimes being committed by the U.S. military he did so as an act of obedience to this high moral duty. It is for this reason too that Manning has also been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. In more general terms it is well known that war operations, and especially illegal ones, are frequently conducted under the cover of secrecy. To penetrate this wall of secrecy by revealing information that should be accessible to all is an important contribution to the struggle against war, and acts as a challenge to the military system which dominates both the economy and society in today’s world. IPB believes that whistleblowers are vital in upholding democracies - especially in the area of defense and security. A heavy sentence for Manning would not only be unjust but would also have very negative effects on the right to freedom of expression which the U.S. claims to uphold."
Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire recently wrote: "I have chosen to nominate U.S. Army Pfc Bradley Manning, for I can think of no one more deserving. His incredible disclosure of secret documents to Wikileaks helped end the Iraq War, and may have helped prevent further conflicts elsewhere."
Maguire explains how far-reaching Manning's impact has been: "While there is a legitimate and long-overdue movement for peace and non-violent reform in Syria, the worst acts of violence are being perpetrated by outside groups. Extremist groups from around the world have converged upon Syria, bent on turning this conflict into one of ideological hatred. In recent years this would have spelled an undeniable formula for United States intervention. However, the world has changed in the years since Manning's whistleblowing -- the Middle East especially. In Bahrain, Tunisia, Egypt, and now Turkey, advocates of democracy have joined together to fight against their own governments' control of information, and used the free-flowing data of social media to help build enormously successful non-violent movements. Some activists of what has come to be known as the Arab Spring have even directly credited Bradley Manning, and the information he disclosed, as an inspiration for their struggles.
". . . If not for whistleblower Bradley Manning, the world still might not know of how U.S. forces committed covert crimes in the name of spreading democracy in Iraq . . . Now, those who would support foreign intervention in the Middle East know that every action would be scrutinized under international human rights law. Clearly, this is for the best. International peacekeepers, as well as experts and civilians inside Syria, are nearly unanimous in their view that United States involvement would only worsen this conflict."
Won't you add your name to the petition now?
Mairead Maguire adds: "Around the world, Manning is hailed as a peacemaker and a hero. His nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize is a reflection of this. Yet at his home in America, Manning stands trial for charges of espionage and 'aiding the enemy'. This should not be considered a refutation of his candidacy -- rather, he is in good company. Burmese politician Aung San Suu Kyi and Chinese writer Liu Xiaobo were each awarded the prize in recent years while imprisoned by their home countries."
LANGLEY, VA – Fifty people protested killer drones at the main gate of the CIA today, and six individuals were arrested. The action was organized by the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance [NCNR], a group that has been active in challenging U.S. invasions of Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries, abolishing torture, closing Guantanamo, and bringing an end to drone warfare.
Members of NCNR previously sent a letter to CIA Director John Brennan requesting a meeting to discuss ending the drone program, and have received no response. Because the group is concerned about continuing deaths from drone strikes, they decided they must act, and they must personally go to the CIA and ask for a meeting. They were joined by Cindy Sheehan, Brian Terrell, and other activists from Code Pink, World Can’t Wait, Veterans for Peace, Answer, and many individuals affiliated with other groups to protest the illegal and immoral CIA killer drone program. Sheehan is the mother of Casey who was killed in 2004 in Iraq. Terrell was recently released from federal prison after serving a 6-month term for a peaceful protest against drones at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri.
The group walked up to the gates of the CIA with a copy of the letter they had sent to Brennan. When they were denied a meeting, six individuals crossed onto the base. After announcing a mock drone strike, five people lay down on the ground and were covered with pictures of drone victims. The sixth person keened and wailed over the bodies. After 20 minutes, the group rose up and began to walk further onto the base carrying pictures of drone victims. They were arrested, and cited and released on site.
Somewhere around 3500-4500 people have been killed by drones in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, and other places around the globe with no due process. According to a study from Stanford and NYU only 2% of those killed are high-level targets. Over 200 children have been killed in Pakistan alone. According to Malachy Kilbride, NCNR, “These illegal drone strikes are not making people in the U.S. any safer and will only perpetuate the cycle of violence.”
NCNR citizen activists believe they have the right and a Nuremberg responsibility to highlight perceived illegal government operations. Moreover, the Nuremberg trials pointed out that citizens must act to prevent their government from further illegal activities. Ellen Barfield, Vets for Peace, commented on the arrests stating, “Because our government seems incapable of restricting drone weapons, these brave citizens are practicing their Nuremberg responsibilities.”
Those arrested were Joy First, Mt. Horeb, WI; Malachy Kilbride, Arlington, VA; Max Obuszewski, Baltimore, MD; Phil Runkel, Milwaukee, WI; Cindy Sheehan, Vacaville, CA; and Janice Sevre_Duszynska, Lexington, KY.
Anti-Drone Activists Stopped at U.S. Canadian Border due to “Orders of Protection” given by court to Commander of Drone Base
By Charley Bowman
In mid-June, 2013, Western New York Peace Center board member Valerie Niederhoffer was stopped and interrogated for several hours at the U.S.-Canadian border when returning to the US from an afternoon doing Tai Chi in Canada with friendsi.
The U.S. immigration and customs officer entered Val's name into his computer system and discovered Val had an Order of Protection. He then asked her to pull over for an extended interview.
Orders of Protection (restraining orders) are generally given for spousal abuse, but this unique Order of Protection has been given to activists who have been arrested for challenging the U.S. assassin drone policies.
A Cure for War – With Limitations.
by Erin Niemela
Earlier this week I wrote an editorial proposing a 28th constitutional amendment to abolish war. The NSA scandal, I argue, is tied to the more pervasive problem of violent foreign (and domestic) policy, and we’ll continue to see government abuses so long as war and inter-state military violence are the acceptable choices for conflict management. David Swanson, author of the brilliant history, “When the World Outlawed War,” thoughtfully responded to my plea by urging us to recall and reignite the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928, an existing international pact renouncing war signed and ratified by the US president and Senate.
I agree with Mr. Swanson that any efforts to end war should point to existing law, and we agree that abolishing war is possible and necessary. However, the Kellogg-Briand Pact is not without its limitations, and a fresh, people-driven constitutional amendment could both address those limitations and offer current, culturally relevant and legally dispositive reinforcement.
Day 121 for Guantanamo Hunger Strikers-Joined in Solidarity by 3 Long Term Fasters in the United States
By Ann Wright
June 7, 2013 marks Day 121 of a hunger strike by at least 103 of the 166 men still imprisoned at Guantanamo. The U.S. military acknowledges that 38 are being forcibly fed twice a day by tubes snaked through their noses. Force feeding is condemned by the American Medical Association and the United Nations.
The vast majority of the 166 men have been held for more than 11 years without any charge. 86 have been cleared for release for years. http://witnesstorture.tumblr.
Of course, old people should know these things too, and some small percentage does know them, but energy seems better invested in trying to teach them to young people who have less to unlearn in the process.
1. Obedience is extremely dangerous.
This seems like it must be either wrong or misleadingly incomplete. And that would be true if we were talking about children. If a two-year-old is about to run in front of a car, please do yell "stop!" and hope for as much obedience as possible.
But I'm talking to young people, not children.
When you grow up, your obedience should always be conditional. If a master chef appears to be instructing you to prepare a revoltingly bad dinner but wants you to obey his or her instructions on faith, you might very well choose to do so, considering the risk to be tolerable. If, however, the chef tells you to chop off your little finger, and you do it, that will be a sure sign that you've got an obedience problem.
This is not a trivial or comical danger. The majority of volunteers in experiments are willing to inflict severe pain or death on other human beings when a scientist tells them to do so for the good of science. Watch this video of such an experiment.
Had the actor in this experiment who pretended to be a scientist told the participants to cut off their little fingers, I bet they wouldn't have done it. But they were willing to do far worse to someone else. The good old Golden Rule is a counter to this deficiency, but so is resistance to blind obedience. Most suffering in the world is not created by independent individuals, but by large numbers of people obeying when they should be resisting.
We should think about how not to put ourselves in positions in which we are expected to blindly obey. It is possible to find jobs that don't include that unhealthy expectation. And we should prepare ourselves to refuse immoral instructions whenever we receive them. As we'll see below, we all do receive them all the time.
2. People in power manipulate us into acceptance
Several years ago a lot of people were protesting the U.S. war in Iraq. The president and most of Congress and most of the big media outlets were busy giving out the impression that such protests were ignored or even counter-productive. But former president George W. Bush's memoirs recall the Republican Senate Majority Leader secretly telling him the pressure was becoming too great and they'd need to end the war. Bush signed an agreement with the government of Iraq to leave in three years.
In 1961 the USSR was withdrawing from a moratorium on nuclear testing. A protest at the White House urged President Kennedy not to follow suit. Posters read "Kennedy, Don't Mimic the Russians!" One protester recalled their action for decades as having been pointless and futile, until he found an oral history interview with Adrian Fisher, deputy director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. Fisher said that Kennedy had delayed resuming testing because of the protest.
A delay in a policy we oppose is not as good as a permanent ban, but if those protesters had known they were being listened to they would have come back day after day and brought their friends and possibly achieved that permanent ban. That they imagined they weren't being listened to appears ridiculous if you read enough history. People are always listened to, but those in power go to great lengths to give the impression of not paying any serious attention.
Lawrence Wittner interviewed Robert "Bud" McFarlane, President Ronald Reagan's former national security advisor, asking him whether the White House had paid much attention to protests demanding a "freeze" in nuclear weapons building. "Other administration officials had claimed that they had barely noticed the nuclear freeze movement," Wittner said. "But when I asked McFarlane about it, he lit up and began outlining a massive administration campaign to counter and discredit the freeze -- one that he had directed . . . . A month later, I interviewed Edwin Meese, a top White House staffer and U.S. attorney general during the Reagan administration. When I asked him about the administration's response to the freeze campaign, he followed the usual line by saying that there was little official notice taken of it. In response, I recounted what McFarlane had revealed. A sheepish grin now spread across this former government official's face, and I knew that I had caught him. 'If Bud says that,' he remarked tactfully, 'it must be true.'"
It's funny: even when protesting government lies or government secrecy, people tend to fall for the lie that the government is ignoring you. Yet, in 2011, when a relatively tiny movement began to take to the streets under the banner of "Occupy," the government rolled out a massive effort of infiltration, eavesdropping, harassment, brutality, and propaganda -- while, of course, claiming to have noticed nothing and done nothing about something so unworthy of notice.
Those in power don't restrict themselves to directing you toward inaction. They also work on moving you toward doing lots of things that seem effective but aren't. The way to keep the nation safe, they say, is to go shopping! Or lobby for this watered-down pathetic piece of legislation! Or devote all your activist energy to election campaigning, and then go home and collapse in exhaustion as soon as the election is over -- exactly when you should be gearing up to demand actions out of whoever won the election. These activities that have little impact are depicted as serious and effective, while activities that historically have had tremendous real impact (organizing, educating, demonstrating, protesting, lobbying, heckling, shaming, nonviolently resisting, producing art and entertainment, creating alternative structures) are depicted as disreputable and ineffective and lacking in seriousness.
Of course, being active is much more fun than not. Of course, the influence you have is always possible even if undetected (you might inspire a child who goes on to do great things years later, or slightly win over an opponent who takes a few more years to see the light). Of course, we have a moral duty to do everything we can regardless of the ease of success. But I'm convinced we'd see a lot more activism if people knew how much they are listened to. So tell them! And let's remember to keep telling ourselves.
3. Doing nothing is obeying a deadly order
Imagine writing a story about a village that faces possible destruction, and for the most part the people don't do anything to prevent it.
That's not how stories are written.
That's the world we live in and fail to recognize.
We are being instructed to sit at a desk and zap the earth to death, and we're compliantly zapping away. Only the zapping doesn't look like zapping, it looks like living. We work and eat and sleep and play and garden and buy junk at the store and watch movies and go to baseball games and read books and make love, and we don't imagine we can possibly be destroying a planet. What are we, the Death Star?
But a sin of omission is morally and effectively equivalent to a sin of commission. We need to be saving the earth and we're not doing so. We're allowing global warming and other major environmental destruction to roll ahead. We're allowing militarization and warmaking to advance. We're watching the concentration of wealth. We see the division of society into castes. We know we're building prisons and drones and highways and pipelines while closing schools and condemning our grandparents to poverty. We are aware that we're funding multi-billionaires with our hard work while fueling mass suffering, bitterness, rage, frustration, and violence.
We see these worsening cycles and we sit still.
Don't sit still.
Sitting still is mass-murder.
Don't obey anyone who tells you to sit still.
Don't search for a leader.
Don't sell your conscience to a group or a slogan or a political party.
Don't listen to me unless something I say makes sense.
Solidarity Statement with the People of Turkey from WRL's Facing Tear Gas Campaign
Over the past several days, Turkey has seen some of its largest mass mobilizations in years. Protesters are pouring into Taksim Square, Gezi Park, and other public spaces throughout the country in the thousands to reject neoliberalism and government-backed urban gentrification. As they brave vomit-inducing tear gas, rubber bullets, water cannons, and live ammunition, it is clear that the people of Turkey are demanding much more than simply the conservation of Istanbul’s precious remaining green space. Rather, what we are witnessing in Turkey is a broad movement of people from various classes, ages, religious sects, and political backgrounds calling for real democracy. It is also imperative to contextualize this recent uprising as a continuation of many struggles that Turkish citizens have undertaken for years around economic justice, rights of minorities (including the Kurdish people), and resistance to mandatory military service.
Since 2010, the uprisings in the Arab world catalyzed a chain reaction of revolutionary change across the globe that shook dictatorships and repressive governments at their core. Turkey is no exception to this, and as members of the Facing Tear Gas Campaign, we are moved and inspired by this growing new movement.
However, we have also borne witness to immense amounts of military and police attacks on nonviolent protestors, including the use of tear gas and related chemical weapons as tools of war on protest, free speech, and democratic movements. In Istanbul, there is evidence of tear gas coming from at least two U.S. companies— Defense Technology (Casper, WY) and Nonlethal Technologies (Homer, PA)— and one Brazilian company, Condor Non-Lethal Technologies (Rio de Janeiro). Together, these companies manufacture the tear gas used to hurt people and repress popular movements in Egypt, Bahrain, Palestine, the United States, Greece, Canada, and now Turkey. Additionally, there are reports of Turkish law enforcement directly shooting civilians with tear gas canisters, which can cause injury or death.
If you are in Turkey (or know people who are), please contribute your experience toward our collective effort to end the use of tear gas. Please save and photograph any gas canisters or incidents of their use, and let our campaign know. This is the best way to expose the companies providing chemical weapons to the Turkish military and police. Share your story on our Facing Tear Gas Tumblr, follow us on Twitter @resistwar, tweet using the hashtags #teargas or #chemicalgas, or email us at facingteargas@warresisters.
The Facing Tear Gas Campaign salutes the peoples of Turkey and the world in solidarity with this growing movement. As the protests grow across various cities across Turkey, including at the capital Ankara, Izmir, Adana, Diyarbakir and beyond, the slogan “Taksim is everywhere, resistance is everywhere” resonates across the globe. Indeed, Taksim reminds us that another world is on its way, one free of weapons, militarism, and state violence, and toward a truly dignified freedom.
To my friends who live outside of Turkey:
I am writing to let you know what is going on in Istanbul for the last five days. I personally have to write this because most of the media sources are shut down by the government and the word of mouth and the internet are the only ways left for us to explain ourselves and call for help and support.
Four days ago a group of people who did not belong to any specific organization or ideology got together in Istanbul’s Gezi Park. Among them there were many of my friends and students. Their reason was simple: To prevent and protest the upcoming demolishing of the park for the sake of building yet another shopping mall at very center of the city. There are numerous shopping malls in Istanbul, at least one in every neighborhood! The tearing down of the trees was supposed to begin early Thursday morning. People went to the park with their blankets, books and children. They put their tents down and spent the night under the trees. Early in the morning when the bulldozers started to pull the hundred-year-old trees out of the ground, they stood up against them to stop the operation.
They did nothing other than standing in front of the machines.
No newspaper, no television channel was there to report the protest. It was a complete media black out.
But the police arrived with water cannon vehicles and pepper spray. They chased the crowds out of the park.
In the evening the number of protesters multiplied. So did the number of police forces around the park. Meanwhile local government of Istanbul shut down all the ways leading up to Taksim square where the Gezi Park is located. The metro was shut down, ferries were cancelled, roads were blocked.
Yet more and more people made their way up to the center of the city by walking.
They came from all around Istanbul. They came from all different backgrounds, different ideologies, different religions. They all gathered to prevent the demolition of something bigger than the park:
The right to live as honorable citizens of this country.
They gathered and marched. Police chased them with pepper spray and tear gas and drove their tanks over people who offered the police food in return. Two young people were run over by the tanks and were killed. Another young woman, a friend of mine, was hit in the head by one of the incoming tear gas canisters. The police were shooting them straight into the crowd. After a three hour operation she is still in Intensive Care Unit and in very critical condition. As I write this we don’t know if she is going to make it. This blog is dedicated to her.
These people are my friends. They are my students, my relatives. They have no «hidden agenda» as the state likes to say. Their agenda is out there. It is very clear. The whole country is being sold to corporations by the government, for the construction of malls, luxury condominiums, freeways, dams and nuclear plants. The government is looking for (and creating when necessary) any excuse to attack Syria against its people’s will.
On top of all that, the government control over its people’s personal lives has become unbearable as of late. The state, under its conservative agenda passed many laws and regulations concerning abortion, cesarean birth, sale and use of alcohol and even the color of lipstick worn by the airline stewardesses.
People who are marching to the center of Istanbul are demanding their right to live freely and receive justice, protection and respect from the State. They demand to be involved in the decision-making processes about the city they live in.
What they have received instead is excessive force and enormous amounts of tear gas shot straight into their faces. Three people lost their eyes.
Yet they still march. Hundred of thousands join them. Couple of more thousand passed the Bosporus Bridge on foot to support the people of Taksim.
No newspaper or TV channel was there to report the events. They were busy with broadcasting news about Miss Turkey and “the strangest cat of the world”.
Police kept chasing people and spraying them with pepper spray to an extent that stray dogs and cats were poisoned and died by it.
Schools, hospitals and even 5 star hotels around Taksim Square opened their doors to the injured. Doctors filled the classrooms and hotel rooms to provide first aid. Some police officers refused to spray innocent people with tear gas and quit their jobs. Around the square they placed jammers to prevent internet connection and 3g networks were blocked. Residents and businesses in the area provided free wireless network for the people on the streets. Restaurants offered food and water for free.
People in Ankara and İzmir gathered on the streets to support the resistance in Istanbul.
Mainstream media kept showing Miss Turkey and “the strangest cat of the world”.
I am writing this letter so that you know what is going on in Istanbul. Mass media will not tell you any of this. Not in my country at least. Please post as many as articles as you see on the Internet and spread the word.
As I was posting articles that explained what is happening in Istanbul on my Facebook page last night someone asked me the following question:
«What are you hoping to gain by complaining about our country to foreigners?»
This blog is my answer to her.
By so called «complaining» about my country I am hoping to gain:
Freedom of expression and speech,
Respect for human rights,
Control over the decisions I make concerning my on my body,
The right to legally congregate in any part of the city without being considered a terrorist.
But most of all by spreading the word to you, my friends who live in other parts of the world, I am hoping to get your awareness, support and help!
Please spread the word and share this blog.
For futher info and things you can do for help please see Amnesty International’s Call for Urgent Help
Nathaniel Batchelder is a Vietnam veteran and has been director of the Peace House Oklahoma City since 1990 – a center for public education on justice, peace and environmental issues.
Natan Blanc (with thanks to Yesh Gvul)This morning, the Israeli military's Exemption Committee declared Israeli conscientious objector Natan Blanc unfit for duty, six months after he initially reported to the induction centre and declared his refusal.
You can send an email to Defence Minister Moshe Ya'alon, welcoming the fact that Natan will no longer be imprisoned, but urging him to ensure that in future COs are not treated similarly here: http://wri-irg.org/node/21852
Natan's prison sentences have been 10, 20, 14, 14, 20, 18, 20, 14, 20 and 28 days long respectively. This exemption follows his second appeal for exemption. His first was refused.
Hear Natan speak about why he refuses to join the Israeli military here.
You can also read Natan's refusal declaration in full here.
In April, Israeli CO group New Profile put out a statement alongside No to Compulsory Military Service in Egypt in support of Natan as well as Eyptian COs. The statement is here: Joint Statement: Freedom to Conscientious Objectors in the Middle East. In the photo you can see Natan holding photos of these Egyptian COs.
Continue supporting for COs
Please write to Defence Minister Moshe Ya'alon, calling upon him to ensure that COs in future do not endure the imprisonments and repeated punishments. You can do so here.
Please also consider sharing the CO-Alert sign up with your friends and contacts. COs around the world continue to be persecuted, and CO-Alerts are a unique way of raising awareness of these cases. Visit this page to be added to subscribe: http://lists.wri-irg.org/
War Resisters' International
By Alfredo Lopez
Toward the end of Roman Polanski's masterpiece "Chinatown" an exchange takes place between "hero" Jake Gittes and the super-rich Noah Cross when Gittes finally realizes that Cross has seized control of Los Angeles' water supply.
"I just wanna know what you're worth," Gittes explains. "More than 10 million?
Monsanto: Profits Above Human Health
by Stephen Lendman
On May 25, tens of thousands of people marched against Monsanto. They did so in dozens of countries worldwide. They had good reason.
They want consumer protections enacted. They want safe food to eat. They want governments assuring it. They want GMO foods and ingredients labeled.
By Ann Wright
The city of Oak Ridge, Tennessee and its neighbor Knoxville, are government towns. Oak Ridge has been called “the closed city,” reminiscent of government cities in the old Soviet Union that were closed to the public because of sensitive weapons production and other activities Soviets wanted to keep from prying eyes. In the case of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, the U.S. government wants to keep the production of nuclear bombs and their components away from public scrutiny.
Oak Ridge is a tough place to challenge the biggest employer in the area, a southern town where dissent is abnormal and prejudices of all sorts run deep in the culture and heritage.
(Look for a large colorful banner and people wearing prison-style orange jumpsuits.)
Seventy-one-year-old S. Brian Willson, a Viet Nam veteran member of Veterans For Peace, Portland Chapter 72, beginning Sunday, May 12 reduced his food intake by more than 85 percent, fasting on 300 calories a day in solidarity with the 130 uncharged Guantanamo prisoner hunger strikers now in deteriorating health, many of whom are being force-fed. Willson, a trained lawyer and criminologist, anti-war activist and author, lives by the mantra: “We are not worth more; They are not worth less.” He joins 65-year-old grandmother Diane Wilson, a fifth-generation Texas shrimper, anti-war activist and author, who began an open-ended, water-only fast on May 1 outside the White House, and intends to fast until the prisoners are freed. There are more than 1,200 people around the country participating in a rolling hunger strike to bring attention to the plight of the fasting prisoners at Guantanamo, who have been illegally detained for over ten years with little recourse. May 16 is the 100th day of the hunger strike. The hunger strike/fast demands President Obama take immediate action to close the prison and release the prisoners.
Colonel Morris Davis, a 25-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force and one-time Chief Prosecutor for the terrorism trials at Guantanamo, has collected 200,000 signatures to be submitted to the White House, appealing to President Obama to close the Medieval detention center.*
A total 166 prisoners from 25 countries remain housed in the U.S.-constructed and operated gulag (2002) at Guantanamo, located on Cuban soil without Cuba’s permission. Most have been jailed and tortured for eleven years without charges, without trials, with no contact with families, and only limited legal counsel when lawyers persist to overcome military obstruction. Although the U.S. is a signatory to the U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment, its maltreatment of these detainees openly violates international laws and its own Constitution.
Currently as many as 130 of the prisoners are on a hunger strike in protest of their medieval conditions. Stripped of their dignity, their bodies are the only place where they retain some control, yet even this is taken away as their U.S. captors have induced force-feeding to keep them alive in their misery. The American Medical Association and the World Medical Association both declared that force-feeding of competent patients/prisoners is in violation of international law.
These prisoners' names and home countries are now identified. Eighty-six of them were cleared for release several years ago, yet remain incarcerated. Fifty-six of these are from Yemen and President Obama has imposed a ban on releasing them. President Obama could use his bully leverage to close Guantanamo and release all the prisoners, despite his blaming Congress. U.S. Professor of Law Marjorie Cohn describes forced feeding as follows:
“They strap you to a chair, tie up your wrists, your legs, your forehead and tightly around the waist,” Fayiz Al-Kandari told his lawyer, Lt. Col. Barry Wingard. Al-Kandari, a Kuwaiti held at Guantanamo for 11 years, has never been charged with a crime. “The tube makes his eyes water excessively and blood begins to trickle from the nose. Once the tube passes his throat the gag reflex kicks in. Warm liquid is poured into the body for 45 minutes to two hours. He feels like his body is going to convulse and often vomits,” Wingard added. ["Death is Preferable to Life at Obama's Guantanamo," Global Research, news site of Centre for Research on Globalization, May 10, 2013. http://www.globalresearch.ca/death-is-preferable-to-life-at-obamas-guantanamo/5334556]
The larger context: Of the 2,300,000 prisoners warehoused in 9,000 U.S. jails and prisons, nearly 1,400,000 are racial and ethnic minorities. As many as 80,000 are held in solitary confinement. More than 30,000 immigrants are languishing in indefinite detention. The U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture has concluded that physical isolation of 22-24 hours one day or longer for young people constitutes cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment. Force-feeding is not unique to Guantanamo; some U.S. prisoners are routinely and systematically force fed. The U.S. possesses but 4.6 percent of the world’s population, but incarcerates 25 percent of the world’s prisoners, owning the highest per capita detention rate of any country in the world.
The CIA has been so busy consulting on Zero Dark Thirty, not to mention funding Hamid Karzai, bribing Russians, lying about weapons, and conducting humanitarian drone murders, that it didn't have any time at all to help out with Hit and Stay, and yet arguably the latter turned out to be the better film despite such a severe handicap. You can check it out at http://hitandstay.com
This is a film about people taking risks to prevent killing rather than to engage in it. The focus is on the Catonsville Nine action on May 17, 1968, 45 years ago this Friday. That action, in which activists burned draft cards and apologized for burning papers rather than children, was preceded by the Baltimore Four action of October 27, 1967, in which four activists poured their blood on draft papers. It was followed by countless other actions, leading right up to the Transform Plowshares action in Tennessee for which three are currently awaiting sentencing.
The Catonsville action received so much publicity that it had something of an Occupy effect. That is, others who felt the same way about the slaughter of the Vietnamese people but didn't believe they could do anything, suddenly began doing something. Some did very similar actions. Others tried their own approaches to the same problem. Catonsville Nine inspired other tactics, enlarged marches and rallies, and generally moved the peace movement forward. The creativity and novelty of the action even made people think about the war who hadn't before.
Draft records were destroyed, preventing the drafting of those people. So, this was substantive resistance that couldn't be undone. At the same time it was educational and inspirational. It didn't inspire sadistic shouts of "Bin Laden's dead!" It inspired people to act on their moral outrage. There were over 100 actions taken at draft boards over the next few years. Many thousands of people's draft records were destroyed, saving them from the draft and saving those they would have killed from that fate. Some of the draft offices were shut down permanently. In the end the Selective Service declared it was under assault, and Nixon declared that the military would now be volunteer.
Some of the actions went after FBI offices and U.S. attorneys offices. Activists never yet apprehended stole COINTELPRO documents and sent them to the media, exposing the FBI's abuses and creating a major news story that lasted until it was overshadowed by the Pentagon Papers -- released by Dan Ellsberg, himself inspired by the activism shown in Hit and Stay. The people shown engaging in these actions are, in many cases, still active today -- although they look a bit older. In other cases, their sons and daughters are still involved.
The name "Hit and Stay" comes from the method of engaging in civil disobedience (or civil resistance for those who prefer to point to laws being upheld through the violation of other laws deemed less important) and then staying at the scene of the crime to take responsibility. This was a communications strategy, not a masochistic drive toward suffering. Some of the Catonsville Nine went into hiding to avoid their trial and remain active, even after having stood still long enough to be arrested and charged.
The film shows us the Milwaukee 14, the DC 9 who went after the Dow Chemical Company, and the New York 8. The New York activists hit more than one location and chose not to stay. Instead, they held a press conference to claim responsibility without identifying who was at which location or agreeing to answer questions. They were not prosecuted.
We see the Boston 2, the Rhode Island Political Offensive For Freedom (RIPOFF) -- modeled after the New York 8. We see the Rochester Flower City Conspiracy, the Buffalo, the Camden 28. That last one was encouraged, assisted, and then busted by an informant, but in the trial the judge allowed defense witnesses including people like Howard Zinn. The jury nullified the law by acquitting defendants who openly admitted to their actions. The jury joined in singing "Amazing Grace," and the foreman threw a party for the defendants.
Activists have not entirely figured out how to counter the brilliant move of creating a "volunteer" poverty draft, but neither has it shut down resistance in quite the way as is generally imagined. The stories of these long-ago actions and so many thousands of actions since still inspire. And resistance is in many ways greater now. Wars are protested before they even start, and sometimes prevented from starting. There is much to inspire us in independent media reports of nonviolent actions today, but I suspect this movie has the power to inspire us further.
By Stephen C. Webster - Raw Story
An 83-year-old nun who broke into a Tennessee depleted uranium storage facility in 2012 and splashed human blood on several surfaces, exposing a massive security hole at the nation’s only facility used to store radioactive conventional munitions, was convicted Wednesday and sentenced to a term of up to 20 years in prison.
The only regret Sister Megan Rice shared with members of her jury on Wednesday was that she wished 70 years hadn’t passed before she took direct action, according to the BBC. She and two other peace activists, 64-year-old Michael Walli and 56-year-old Greg Boertje-Obed, were convicted of “invasion of a nuclear facility” in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, even though investigators admitted they did not get close to any actual nuclear material.
The three activists are part of a group called “Transform Now Plowshares,” a reference to the book of Isaiah, which says, “They shall beat their swords into plowshares. They shall learn war no more.” All three face individual sentences of up to 20 years, along with a litany of fines.
As they invaded the Y-12 National Security Complex at Oak Ridge, a perimeter fence was cut, several surfaces were spray-painted, banners were hung and activists read from the Bible. They also spread human blood on several surfaces, saying its use was symbolic, meant to remind people “of the horrific spilling of blood by nuclear weapons.”
“The shortcomings in security at one of the most dangerous places on the planet have embarrassed a lot of people,” the activists’ attorney, Francis Lloyd, told members of the jury according to the BBC. “You’re looking at three scapegoats behind me.”
Sister Rice has been arrested between 40 or 50 times committing acts of civil disobedience, according to The New York Times, including once in Nevada after she physically blocked a truck at a nuclear test site.
Depleted uranium munitions like the kind stored at the facility Sister Rice targeted are blamed for some of the worst birth defects and soaring cancer rates seen in post-war Iraq, particularly in the city of Fallujah following the siege of 2004, in which U.S. soldiers killed thousands of civilians.
The city has never recovered, particularly from the use of depleted uranium munitions, and to this day residents suffer from health effects “worse” than those seen following the nuclear detonations at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, according to a study by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
“I believe we are all equally responsible to stop a known crime,” Sister Rice said from the witness stand, according to quotes published by her group. She called herself a “citizen of the world” and reportedly smiled as the verdict was read.
This video is from ABC News, aired August 2, 2012.
It took a jury about 2 ½ hours to find the three protesters guilty of a charge of sabotaging the plant and second charge of damaging federal property in July the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge in July.
Defense attorneys said in closing arguments that federal prosecutors had overreached in the charges because of the embarrassment caused by the break-in.
This past Saturday morning felt like mid-winter in Asheville, North Carolina, but was actually some weeks past tax day, and dozens of people were gathered in front of a federal building to say something about what federal income taxes are used for -- something much more unusual than one would expect.
Posters carried messages including: "War steals from the poor" and "Defund Militerrorism." This in itself was not so unusual. Opponents of war often use tax season to inform their friends and neighbors that roughly half of income tax dollars go to war preparation. We could have the educations and health and happiness that other nations have if we didn't waste our money on the military, we say. We'd have more and better jobs, and jobs we could feel better about, we tell people.
If only our taxes weren't put to such bad ends.
But the people gathered from across the country in Asheville on Saturday were in town for a meeting of the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee. They had gathered on Saturday morning to announce the awarding of grants of thousands of dollars to a long list of great humanitarian causes -- all the things we wish our taxes were going to. For these people, this is in fact what their taxes are going to. Many of them have put the dollars they owe in taxes into one of a number of funds set up for this purpose. They can take their money back if they choose, but meanwhile the interest it earns goes to worthy causes of their choosing in the form of these grants announced in something more like a celebration than the usual tax-day lamentation that war opponents are all familiar with.
Following the announcements in front of the federal building, the small crowd stretched out in a long single-file line walking through Asheville, posters held high, making a tour of locations in the lives of the homeless and destitute, locations in need of the money that went to buy the bombs Israel was just then dropping on Syria.
This is part 2 of the workshop. Part two is the discussion portion of the workshop and it is an audio file.
Related Rochester Indymedia articles: Anti-Drone Banner Drop in Syracuse, NY | 31 protesters arrested for blocking drone base | Bruce Gagnon: Stop the Militarization and Nuclearization of Space! | Sarah AK Ahmed, an Iraqi, grew up through Two Decades of War | An interview with Kathy Kelly from Voices for Creative Nonviolence | Hancock Drone Resisters Found Guilty; Sentencing is April 24 | On Guard! Your Government Isn't Trustworthy! An interview with Col. (ret.) Ann Wright | We Can Make Change - Debra Sweet Interviewed | Stopping the Billionaires, the Bombers, and the War Machine--an interview with David Swanson | Everyone Must Resist! An interview with Elliott Adams | Nick Mottern Discusses Drone Warfare and His Consciousness Raising Efforts | 10 Years Ago: Hundreds say no to US aggression | Martin Luther King: "Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam" | Anti-Drone Protest Draws Police Attention | Anti-Drone Demonstrators Return to Brighton | Anti-NATO coverage by Rochester Indymedia in Chicago | From Disney to Drone Wars - a critical settler perspective | Anti-Drone Demonstration Draws Hundreds; 37 Arrested for Civil Disobedience
By Bruce K. Gagnon, www.space4peace.org
I was honored to be involved in the weekend drone conference and protest in Syracuse, New York organized by the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars. I've just returned home after spending Sunday night in jail (with maybe one hour of sleep) and the long eight-hour drive back to Maine. So my mind is slipping a few gears, my wrists still hurt after about 11 hours of wearing handcuffs, but my heart and soul feel strong from the experience.
The drone conference began on Friday evening at a local community center in the Syracuse black community. More than 200 folks showed up for the event that featured some of the great activists from around the county like Col. Ann Wright, Kathy Kelly, David Swanson, Dr. Margaret Flowers, Kevin Zeese, Charley King, Mark Johnson, Elliott Adams, Howie Hawkins, Nick Mottern, Joe Lombardo, the Grady sisters, Tighe Barry, Debra Sweet and a large delegation of Veterans for Peace members from many states.
I spoke Saturday morning on a plenary panel along with Kathy Kelly and David Swanson. This gave me the chance to put drones into the larger context of US strategy and space technology development that is being used to advance the "interests" of corporate globalization and their effort to control resources around the planet. I suggested that we might think of military space satellites as being the "triggers" that makes it possible for drones to fire their deadly "Hellfire" missiles that frequently kill innocent civilians in places like Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen.
In addition I did a workshop entitled "Full Spectrum Dominance" that allowed me the time to thoroughly cover the nuclearization and weaponization of space issues.
On Sunday morning we gathered for a meeting on the planned civil resistance action later that day at Hancock Air Field from where the "Reaper" drone is flown over Afghanistan by military personnel sitting in front of computer terminals at the base - all hooked up by military satellites and Space Command down-link stations spread around the world.